Commanders Veteran Will Be First QB to Wear No. 0 in NFL History

Marcus Mariota

Getty Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota in 2022.

The Washington Commanders will have an NFL first on its roster this year — a quarterback who will wear the jersey No. 0, according to the NFL.

Former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota will wear the jersey this season.

The Commanders signed Mariota to a one-year contract worth up to $10 million and with a base salary of $6 million on March 12, according to The Associated Press.

“Such a decision was largely impossible until only recently,” wrote Around the NFL’s Nick Shook. “In 2021, the NFL relaxed its jersey numbering rules and opened the possibility for nearly every player on both sides of the ball to wear single digits. In 2023, the league expanded further, permitting players to wear No. 0 for the first time in decades.”

How Many Players Wore No. 0 in 2023? 

More than 20 players wore No. 0 during the 2023 season but none were quarterbacks.

Mariota was in a bind when it came to his number in Washington. He wore No. 8 in college at Oregon, when he won the 2014 Heisman Trophy, and during his time with the Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, and Philadelphia Eagles. He wore No. 1 with the Atlanta Falcons in 2022.

The NFL  designated specific numbers for positions in 1973 and only quarterbacks were able to wear single digits — except for 0. In 2021, the league softened up its strict jersey number rules for the first time in decades. Only offensive and defensive linemen are excluded from being able to wear No. 0.

ESPN did an extensive dive into the reasons different players were choosing to wear No. 0 before last season.

“It looks fire,” said former New York Giants wide receiver Parris Campbell.

Denver Broncos linebacker Jonathon Cooper wore the No. 0 in college at Ohio State and changed from No. 53 to his college number last season.

“It looks cool on a jersey, but it means something to me,” Cooper told ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. “For whatever reason, I think that number says whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll do.”

Mariota Could Be Starter for Commanders in 2024

Mariota’s one-year deal is likely to serve as a bridge between the 2024 season and the future for the Commanders, who have the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft and are likely to select a quarterback.

Mariota has only been the full-time starter for a team once in the last five seasons, going 5-8 in 13 games for the Falcons in 2022.

The Commanders seem to be deciding between two quarterbacks for the No. 2 pick — LSU’s Jayden Daniels and North Carolina’s Drake Maye.

That means Mariota could be called on to help mentor a young quarterback after being in that very same position nine yeas ago.

“Whatever this staff, whatever this team needs of me, I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities,” Mariota said on a video call with reporters after he signed. “I’ve dealt with a lot of different things throughout my career. I’ve been a starter, won a playoff game. I’ve also been cut, I’ve also been injured, I’ve also been benched. So, I think all those experiences create value and also creates opportunities for me to build relationships with guys.”

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